We live in a world where groups are targeted criminally for being who they are or choose to be, a world that prioritizes discrimination over acceptance and acknowledgment, a world that actively turns a believer into a statistic that can easily be ignored.
Discrimination leads individuals to be subjected to ridicule based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief or activity, personal association and more.
There is another type of discrimination that thousands of us go through on a daily basis. Non degree holders face problems every day. Be it at home, job hunting, connecting, networking or simply just socializing.
If I were back in primary school thinking of my future, I’d probably be optimistic about my future being bright. You’d be in grade 7 almost bursting with excitement that you’d be getting a spot in secondary school. You’d then be in grade 12 slapping yourself to the realization that you’d made it that far and were moments away from being in university, studying your dream subject and in the perfect country best fitted to your charm, prestige and parents pocket. It was just one milestone after another until I was sat down one beautiful day only to be so majestically informed that my university dream and career plans could be no more. I had already gotten a gap year filled with work experience after my A Levels and when Christmas came and went, I was still slouched in my room waiting for funds to get my life back on track. Almost 2 weeks after the dreaded conversation, I decided to make money to support my dreams. I did it through work but the journey towards that was the worst I’d ever experienced. That’s when I realized the essence and importance of a stamped paper and Instagram photos of graduation giving off more proof of the glorious achievement made. I saw the significance, impression and reputation it imprinted in society.
Following a difficult, disturbing, departure from my family home, I tried for months to look for a job. One that would be able to stabilize my drastic change into the unfair wolf to my little red riding hood of a world. All I had was a resume and a voice. No university degree. In the very first interview, I had, I walked in smiling, graceful and polite. I spoke eloquently and gave exhaustive detail where required. I noticed the air in the room shifted as I mentioned my age to the smart man in front of me, legs crossed dangling his pen around his finger. He looked at me and muttered that I looked older. As I handed my resume, his first question fell on my qualifications. He completely disregarded my work experience and my highest level being all passes in my A Levels. I was then sent home with a “We’ll give you a call.” I knew immediately what that meant.
So the next interview I went for, I dressed the part. I sprayed my favorite combination of body spray and perfume and placed my hair away from my face with subtle make-up for enhancement. As I walked into the office, with no appointment, I sat with confidence. I looked the manager in the eyes and gave out a smile, mentioned my reason for showing up unannounced and handed over my resume without him asking. The interview went well and I believed I was going to get a good position in the organization. Relief poured over my body as I was one step closer to getting my tertiary education paid for from my hard earned work and savings. To my surprise, the end was terrible. Unfortunately, my education level wasn’t “specified” or high enough.
So one interview after another, I got the same result. I grew tired and I was broke. No gas in the car and certainly not enough money for rent. How else are we supposed to succeed in life when we are always shut out from the progression every other person is making?
A number of Zambians in particular are unable to finish their education for the same reason that I have. It’s an expensive part of growth yet everyone stresses it must be done. But the discrimination against someone without a degree is appalling to the core. Because I didn’t get the opportunity to study abroad or study at all does not make me less than a person that has. One thing most employers forget is that human beings have the ability to adapt to any environment. Some quicker than others most especially depending on the enthusiasm they have.
Education is the key to the betterment of livelihood indeed, however, knowledge is power.it is unfair for one to think degree holders cannot make an impact or an impression to society. Being discriminated against for being a non-degree holders is a feeling that haunts you every day. It’s not a position one can quickly change as it takes effort, energy, money and time. Some chose not to further their studies, while others are denied the opportunity through circumstance. More people should be encouraged to work, to make the money for the opportunity rather than to be looked at as less than.
Fair enough, holding a degree is a massive achievement that must always be congratulated . It is an honor to be able to say you made it far and got the credit you deserve. However, having one does not make anyone more superior. It just makes life that much easier to earn a better living than one without.
Featured image | Quirky school sign | The Green Party of Ireland | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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